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World War I
First large-scale use of chemicals such as chlorine and mustard gases.

1925Geneva Protocol
Chemical warfare in WWI leads to the Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the use of biological or chemical weapons in warfare, but does not ban the research or production of these agents.

World War II
Despite the Geneva Protocol, chemical weapons use appears in WWII, although not to the extent of WWI. Japan experiments with biological agents throughout the 30s and 40s and uses biological weapons in China and Manchuria.

1942Gruinard Island
On Gruinard Island, off the coast of Scotland, the British conduct anthrax tests on sheep. Today, the uninhabited island is still believed to be infected with anthrax spores.

1950s and 60sUnited States' Offensive Biological Program
The U.S. expands its offensive biological warfare program, which started during World War II. Tests are conducted in secret by the U.S. Army in U.S. cities using nonpathogenic bacteria.

In 1969, the program culminates with a large series of tests of its offensive biological munitions in the Pacific Ocean. The tests, conducted by the U.S. Army, involve a large number of ships loaded with caged animals. The tests are considered a success.

At the end of 1969 President Nixon terminates the U.S. offensive biological warfare program and orders all stockpiled weapons destroyed.

1972Biological Weapons Convention
The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), an international treaty that prohibits the research, development and production of offensive biological weapons, is established. The treaty does allow defensive work in the area of biological weapons. The Soviet Union is one of the signatories.

April 1979Sverdlovsk
An unusual anthrax outbreak occurs in the city of Sverdlovsk, USSR. Up to 100 are affected; at least 64 of them die.The Soviet government claims contaminated meat is responsible.

Within a year debate begins within international scientific and intelligence communities on whether the Sverdlovsk incident was a result of tainted meat or an accidental release of anthrax spores from a nearby suspected biological weapons facility. The debate will last for more than a decade.

1980Eradication of Smallpox
After a long and successful vaccination campaign, smallpox is declared eradicated worldwide. Only two labs will maintain smallpox stocks - the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and the Ivanovsky Institute in Moscow.

Chemical weapons are used extensively during the Iran-Iraq war, mainly by Iraq.

After the Gulf War, in 1991, Iraq is ordered by the UN Security Council to stop its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons program. The United Nations Special Commission begins post-war inspections that have continued with numerous interruptions and obstacles thrown up by Iraq.

Dr. Vladimir Pasechnick, the former director of the Leningrad Institute of Ultrapure Biological Preparations, defects to the UK. He reveals that the Soviet Union has an extensive offensive biological weapons program.

Communism falls

Jan. 1991Inspections
Joint U.S./UK inspection teams visit some biological facilities in Russia. The Russians insist these are defensive facilities. The team believes they find evidence of an offensive program that involves biological agents, such as smallpox, anthrax, Marburg virus, and plague.

The following December, Russian inspection teams visit the closed-up U.S. biological facilities and see that the U.S. has ended its offensive program. However, the Russians report back to Moscow that the U.S. continues to have an offensive program.

Dr. Kanatjan Alibekov, former first deputy director of Biopreparat (the civilian arm of the Soviet Union's biological warfare program) defects to the United States. He confirms many of the West's suspicions of Russia's offensive biological program, including the fact that Russia has used its smallpox stock to make weapons.

Sverdlovsk Admission
President Yeltsin, without giving details, admits the Sverdlovsk anthrax outbreak was caused by activity at the military facility. Around the same time, a team of Western and Russian scientists visit the city of Sverdlovsk and conclude the outbreak was caused by anthrax spores accidentally released from the facility.

1993Chemical Weapons Convention
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is established. It prohibits the research and production of offensive chemical agents, similar to the BWC.

February 27, 1993World Trade Towers Bombing
A bomb explodes at the World Trade Towers in New York City. Some analysts suspect the bomb was laced with cyanide that failed to ignite. Six people are killed and hundreds injured.

March 20, 1995Tokyo Subway Attack
Members of the Aum Shinrikyo religious sect release sarin gas in the Tokyo subway system, killing 12 and injuring over 5,000. Due to the poor quality of the sarin agent and an ineffective dispersal system, casualties are lower than expected. Afterwards, the religious group is found to have been experimenting with anthrax and other biological agents.

April 25, 1997B'nai B'rith
An envelope marked "antrachs" is discovered in the mailroom of the world headquarters of B'nai B'rith in Washington DC. The fire department seals off the building for what turns out to be a hoax.

March 1998Anthrax Vaccination
The Defense Department begins an anthrax vaccination program to immunize all military personnel against anthrax.

May 1998Presidential Initiatives
President Clinton approves two new Presidential decision directives, known as PDD-62 and PDD-63, to improve the country's ability to prevent and respond to chemical and biological attacks.

President Clinton appoints Richard Clarke as the national coordinator for antiterrorism programs. Over 40 government agencies have some responsibility for dealing with terrorism. However, there currently is no centralized group/organization for countering chemical or biological attacks.

An additional $1 billion is added to the defense budget for chemical and biological defense.

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